(670 The Score) Before David Ross began his four-year tenure as Cubs manager, outfielder Ian Happ was a young player struggling to earn the trust of his team.
A first-round pick of the Cubs in 2015, Happ had been inconsistent in his first two MLB seasons and was then demoted to Triple-A Iowa prior to the start of the 2019 campaign. He later earned a promotion back to the big leagues but played in just 58 games for the Cubs that year. Then came the hiring of Ross prior to the 2020 season, and Happ suddenly had a manager who believed in his untapped potential.
In the aftermath of the Cubs firing Ross on Nov. 6. to pave the way to hire Craig Counsell as their new manager, Happ had mixed emotions, as he told the Bernstein & Holmes Show on Tuesday.
“That’s part about being a human playing this game,” Happ said. “Rossy and I were super close. He’s someone I have a ton of respect for. Can’t thank him enough for all the time and effort and being able to really let us go play and be ourselves. He came in a time in 2020 after I had been down for most of the year in ‘19 and gave me a chance in that 2020 season to play with the DH for the first time, being able to be every day out there and really have a chance to prove myself, and then that carrying over to ‘21 season and ‘22 and ‘23. He’s a good friend and was a great manager for us. Have a ton of respect for him."
Happ also praised Counsell.
“It’s going to be awesome for us," Happ said. "He’s one of the best in the game. Had a ton of respect for him across the field for a long time. Watching the way he manages their bullpen, the respect he has for his players talking to different guys over there about how much they’ve loved him over the years. Really cool to be able to learn from him and pick his brain on all the things he’s going to bring to us.”
Happ was an All-Star selection in 2022 and has earned a Gold Glove in each of the past two seasons.
Counsell was officially introduced by the Cubs as their new manager on Monday. He led the Brewers to playoff berths in five of the last six seasons. Ross had one year remaining under contract with the Cubs when he was fired.